Oman’s climate action plans lauded by think-tank

MUSCAT, DEC 21 – The Sultanate’s substantive approach to mitigating the effects of global warming through the enactment of a comprehensive national climate action strategy has been hailed by a Washington-based think-tank. The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW) singled out Oman as one of only two GCC countries (the other being the United Arab Emirates) that have concrete national-level climate action strategies in place which align with their commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Championed by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, the Sultanate’s national strategy for climate change mitigation is driven a national committee comprising representatives from various ministries and stakeholder agencies, wrote Aisha al Sarihi, a non-resident fellow at AGSIW.
“Oman’s most advanced climate action has been its adaptation to extreme weather; Oman has one of the most advanced early warning systems to aid weather forecasting and early evacuations ahead of cyclones,” the researcher commented.
“Additionally, in 2016, Oman passed a ministerial decision regarding regulations for the management of climate affairs, which requires “greenhouse gas emitting projects” to obtain a climate affairs permit. The decision requires projects to report their greenhouse gas emissions annually, use energy efficient technologies, and implement climate adaptation measures, among other requirements,” she stated in an article published over the weekend.
The report, titled ‘The Gulf Arab States’ Mixed Record on Climate Action’, delves into the climate action mitigation efforts of GCC member states. While all six member states have made progress in addressing climate change concerns, Oman (besides the UAE) has also come up with a full-fledged national action strategy to tackle the negative impacts of the phenomenon.
The Gulf Arab states are particularly at risk from the damaging effects of climate change, the researcher warns. These perils are likely to manifest in the form of extreme weather events, including heatwaves, cyclones and floods. The Sultanate, with part of its coastline overlooking the Arabian Sea, has been hit by least four consequential cyclones over the past 12 years, she pointed out.
However, despite commitments to support the Paris Accord’s goal of reining in the global temperature rise, the Gulf states face “significant impediments” in delivering on their pledges, says Aisha. These include, among other factors, the lack of essential climate-related data to “inform policy-making, limited knowledge and awareness of climate change impacts and the potential economic, social, and environmental advantages of climate action”.
Further, by casting climate action as the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Environment or Ministry of Energy, the Gulf states risk adopting “silo approaches” rather than pursue coordinated action across diverse sectors, the writer points out. Human capacity development and climate research are also imperatives, she stresses in her article.
“Without such immediate intervention to address the barriers that delay advanced climate action, the Gulf Arab states will lag in aligning their climate action with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Just as concerning, they will lack the ability to address the more immediate physical impacts of climate change at the domestic level, where it impacts their citizens directly,” she added in conclusion.
According to a report by the Supreme Council for Planning, Oman’s National Strategy for Adaptation and Mitigation of Climate Change is presently under implementation. Also being drafted is “a second national communication on vulnerability, risks, climate modeling, future climate outlooks and ways to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions”.